The Biden Administration officially declared on Tuesday that the seizure of power in Myanmar by the country’s military was a “coup d’etat,” triggering aid cuts and a review of all foreign aid to Myanmar.
US officials said the aid restrictions only apply to Myanmar’s government. The vast majority of US aid to Myanmar, an estimated $108.65 million requested for 2021, goes to organizations inside the country, and will not be affected.
The Biden Administration is considering additional sanctions against Myanmar’s military. A State Department official said four of Myanmar’s military leaders are already under US sanctions over their role in the displacement of the Muslim Rohingya population.
In a statement on the coup, President Biden suggested that he might reimpose sanctions on Myanmar that were lifted by the Obama administration in 2016. He also hinted at further intervention and said the US and its allies in the region will “hold accountable those responsible” for the coup. Biden also demanded that Myanmar’s military “relinquish the power they have seized.”
The coup is being framed by US media outlets as the Biden administration’s first challenge against Chinese influence in the region. But for their part, Beijing has taken a neutral stance on the situation in neighboring Myanmar.
“China is a friendly neighbor of Myanmar’s. We hope that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately handle their differences under the constitution and legal framework and safeguard political and social stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Monday.
Myanmar’s military took power on Monday after claiming there were irregularities in the country’s November elections. Senior political leaders have been detained, including Aung San Suu Ky, who served as the State Counsellor of Myanmar, the country’s de facto ruler.